Surgical technicians are a second pair of hands to surgeons. They prepare patients for surgical procedures, sterilize equipment, retrieve and hold surgical equipment for the surgeon and gather patient data such as vitals and age. Some technicians also operate surgical and diagnostic equipment. Surgical technicians may pursue career advancement options once they have met their education requirements and have some experience in the industry.
If you want a little more challenge as a surgical technician, or if you are interested in a particular area of surgery, specialization may be the right course for you. As a specialized surgical technician, you still could assist as a general technician, but you would have expertise in a surgical branch. For instance, you could specialize in wound preparation, plastic surgery, neurosurgery, organ transplantation, sterilization, pharmacology, anesthesia or heart surgery.
First assistants are the primary surgical technicians in an operating room. They perform the more advanced duties surgical technicians may have and are directly responsible for helping the surgeon complete the procedure safely. For example, they may help control the flow of blood. Typically, because the activities of a first assistant are more complicated and involve more liability, to advance to the position of first assistant, you have to have additional training, although the training isn't necessarily in a specialization.
Surgical technicians have first-hand experience with the needs of surgical teams. They know what the teams need to complete procedures safely and efficiently. Some technicians go on to work in administrative positions, managing the central supply departments of medical facilities. Some basic business training is beneficial for surgical technicians who delve into management, as are organization and communication skills.
As indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, surgical technicians may seek positions with insurance companies, sterile-supply services and operating equipment firms. Technicians who work for insurance companies are field experts. They may review claims to determine whether a doctor was negligent, for example, or they may help customers understand why they need a specific amount of coverage given their medical history. With sterile supply services and operating equipment firms, surgical technicians may work in product development, check the quality of products, arrange shipments of supplies to facilities or market surgical products to new clients.